Alumni

Recipients of Winter 2017 Lt.-Gov.’s Medals for Proficiency announced

January 31, 2017

Lieutenant Governor awarding medals

Congratulations to the most recent recipients of Red River College’s Lieutenant-Governor’s Medals for Proficiency, who’ll receive their awards as part of our 2017 Winter Convocation ceremonies on Feb. 6 and 8.

Each year, a maximum of four Lt.-Gov’s Medals are awarded to RRC students who best combine good character, academic and technical achievement, and involvement in College and/or community activities. This year’s winners are:

Joel StevensJoel Stevens — A proud graduate of RRC’s Electrical Engineering Technology program, Joel was drawn to this career path because he was determined to build a profession that was both challenging and exciting.

Joel demonstrated outstanding academic performance throughout his time at Red River College, earning a 4.5 GPA. He attributes this achievement to great time management skills and determination, as he was also renovating his home, planning a wedding, volunteering and working part-time while completing the program.

Joel is currently employed by ERLPhase Power Technologies as a Verification Specialist, a job he found less than a month after graduating. He’s responsible for testing relays and fault recorders, developing test procedures and providing technical support to customer service staff. He will now work towards acquiring his Certified Engineering Technologist designation.

When not at work or in school, Joel enjoys spending time with his wife and family – especially his five nephews. He loves to read books about history and theology and is very involved in his church community. He also loves sports and spends much of his free time playing soccer and long distance running.

Charlene TurcotteCharlene Turcotte — A graduate of RRC’s Technical Vocational Teacher Education program, Charlene entered the program as a passionate hairstylist and enrolled so that she could teach others to fall in love with her industry the way she did.

Making the decision to go back to school full-time was not an easy one, but after meeting her instructors and fellow students, she was encouraged to fulfill her goal.

Currently, Charlene is attending the University of Winnipeg to upgrade her Bachelor of Education. She also works as a part-time hairstylist and has started substitute teaching in the River East Trancosa School Division.

When not at work or in school, Charlene spends as much time with her family as she can. With three kids, she has a busy extra-curricular schedule and spends most of her time cheering on her kids at the local hockey rink.

Charlene takes pride in her community and volunteers on many boards, helping out at her local community club and volunteering at the high school where she performed her practicum. She is also the secretary of the Vocational Teachers Association of Manitoba.

Back to school: Former teacher skips retirement in favour of new career

January 20, 2017

After a successful career as a teacher, Willa Klyne decided it was time to go back to school.

Last June, Klyne, 55, wrapped up 29 years of teaching in Frontier School Division. Not really the retiring type, she enrolled in Red River College’s Administrative Assistant program, completing the 17-week certificate program in December.

“I want to work for a very long time. My mom worked part-time until she was 75 years old and I see myself doing the same thing,” Klyne says.

“I’d like to have two or three careers in my lifetime. My plan is to work full-time until I’m 65 and then I’ll decide if I want to continue … or go down to part-time. But I don’t want my working career to be one thing. I can’t imagine sticking with one type of job for my entire lifetime. There are new things to learn and new experiences to have.”

Klyne admits she was a bit nervous about attending college at 55, but she’s not the first in her family to go back to school later in life. In the 1970s, Klyne’s grandmother, Violet McKillop, took a commercial cake decorating course at RRC while in her 70s.

“I would never let it stop me (being an older student), but I wondered how it would be. It turned out to be great. There were way more older students there than I thought there would be,” Klyne says. Read More →

Donor support helps Manufacturing grad qualify for trades and technology Olympics

December 15, 2016

silas-meechesIt’s safe to say Silas Meeches has turned out to be a good investment.

With the help of several donor-supported awards and bursaries from Red River College, Meeches, 20, graduated with his Manufacturing Technician diploma in May 2016. Now, he’s busy prepping for the 2017 World Skills Competition in Abu Dhabi, an event he describes as “the Olympics for trades and technology [students].”

Meeches first qualified for the event in June 2016 when he won a silver medal (in CNC Machining) at the Skills Canada National Competition in New Brunswick. Before nationals, he won gold in the Skills Manitoba Competition hosted at RRC.

Originally enrolled in the College’s Precision Metal Machining certificate program, Meeches didn’t feel it was a good fit for his skill set. He credits Manufacturing Technician co-ordinator Rob Ataman for pointing him to a program where he could thrive.

“From what I’ve heard [Rob] has always been a big help to students, and I was no exception,” says Meeches. “[There was] a lot of pushing in the right direction. I’d say ‘I don’t know if I can do this,’ and he’d say, ‘I know you can.’” Read More →

RRC alum launches bursary to support First Nations and Metis students

December 8, 2016

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Cindy Petrowski’s enthusiasm for education took root at Red River College in the early 1980s. Today, she and her partner are giving back in the form of a newly created endowment fund: The Cindy Petrowski and Phillip Marsh Helping Hands Bursary.

In honour of their Metis family members, the bursary will support First Nations or Metis students with their academic aspirations and help with financial burdens.

Speaking from her home in Victoria, B.C., the RRC graduate, who now spends most of her time with family and her dog, or volunteering for various non-profits, fondly recalls her time at the College.

Petrowski chose RRC because of its reputation then — as now — as a post-secondary institution that offered instruction in current and high-demand skills recognized and required by employers.

She enrolled in the stenography program at a time when computers were just emerging in office environments. “I felt the course offered me an opportunity to learn office skills, and to try my hand at technology,” she remembers.   Read More →

Culinary grads dominate podium at local Gold Medal Plates competition

November 10, 2016

Gold Medal Plates, Winnipeg

Once again, Red River College grads dominated the podium at this year’s Gold Medal Plates competition, with one now on his way to the Canadian Culinary Championships.

Jesse Friesen (Culinary Arts, 2009) took the gold medal at last night’s event, held at the RBC Convention Centre, while Melissa Makarenko (Culinary Arts, 2006) took silver. Friesen advances to the national competition, which takes place Feb. 3 and 4 in Kelowna.

A chef at Pizzeria Gusto, Friesen (shown above, at centre) won silver at last year’s event, while Makarenko (second from left), a chef at Resto Gare Bistro and Train Bar, won bronze last year.

Each year, the Gold Medal Plates event finds local chefs battling each other and the clock — with just 90 minutes to prepare and serve their creations to 500 assembled guests and judges.

The event also doubles as a fundraiser for the Canadian Olympic Foundation, which generates support to meet the technical, scientific, medical and coaching needs of Canada’s athletes.

Apprenticeship grad becomes Canada’s first deaf iron worker with Red Seal certificate

November 10, 2016

A Red River College apprenticeship grad has made history, becoming the first deaf iron worker in Canada to receive his Red Seal certification.

Jonathan Anderson, 26, earned his iron worker credentials from RRC in 2015, and last spring wrote and passed his Red Seal exam. Over the weekend, he gathered at the Union Centre in Winnipeg to celebrate the achievement with friends, family and mentors.

Diagnosed as deaf shortly after his first birthday, Anderson attended the Manitoba School for the Deaf and St. James Collegiate, where he played hockey and football with the help of an interpreter, finding unique ways to communicate with this teammates.

“He learned to adapt,” Anderson’s mother, Bertha, told CTV News. “He couldn’t hear, but he always had his way of communicating.”

Anderson’s Red Seal certificate allows him to practice his trade anywhere in Canada. Since he began his career at the age of 17, he’s already worked on a number of high-profile job sites — among them, the Keeyask Generating Station, the Winnipeg Convention Centre and True North Square.

But the project he’s proudest of is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, of which he told CTV, “My parents will say, ‘My son helped build that building,’ … I have children, and they’ll say, ‘Daddy worked there.’”

Anderson hopes his accomplishment will inspire others with hearing impairments to continue pursuing their dreams.

“I want to show that deaf people can work with people who are not deaf,” he explains. “You can succeed and prove them wrong. If they say you can’t, show them that you can.”

Culinary apprentice honoured at international competition in Manchester

October 3, 2016

Mackenzie FergusonA Red River College apprenticeship grad was recognized at a prestigious culinary competition in England last week.

Mackenzie Ferguson, who in 2011 completed RRC’s Apprenticeship Cook (Level II) course, won in the “best kitchen” category at the Concours International des Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs in Manchester. Ferguson’s award was based on his overall skills, appearance, presentation and cleanliness.

The black box-style contest — in which chefs must create and prepare a three-course menu using a mystery basket of seasonal ingredients — is open to competitors under the age of 27. This year’s event drew entrants from 22 countries and featured 12 international chefs as judges.

Now a Red Seal chef, Ferguson serves as the dining room chef at St. Charles Country Club, where he works under the guidance of world-renowned Chef Takashi Murakami, the inaugural recipient of RRC’s Top Chef Award.

Ferguson has racked up an impressive number of culinary awards over the years, including a bronze in the 2008 Skills Manitoba competition, gold medals at Skills Manitoba and the Culinary Arts Salon Competition in 2009, and a bronze at the Skills Canada contest the same year.

He earned the right to compete at the Canadian National Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs by winning the Manitoba competitions in 2014 and 2015, and took top honours at the national level last year.

Photo credit: chainecanada.org (La Chaine des Rotisseurs Bailliage du Canada)

CreComm grad to make Canadian broadcasting history this weekend

September 1, 2016

Danielle Doiron, CHS Field, St. PaulFor the second time this week, a Red River College grad is poised to make history.

On Saturday evening, Danielle Doiron (Creative Communications, 2016) will become the first woman to call the play-by-play for a Canadian professional baseball team, when she covers the third inning of the Winnipeg Goldeyes‘ game against the Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks.

The game will be broadcast on the Goldeyes’ flagship radio station (93.7 FM CJNU), as well as Kenora-based “The Lake” (89.5 FM).

Doiron is serving her second year as the Goldeyes’ media assistant, and also worked as a studio host and board operator during away broadcasts over the summer. Last winter, she received the Jack Matheson Award from the Manitoba Sports Writers and Sportscasters Association.

“Daniele has earned this [play-by-play] opportunity through her incredible work ethic and high-quality contributions to the Goldeyes’ organization,” says team broadcaster Steve Schuster.

“She has a bright future in the industry, and we are extremely proud to call her a part of our family. This is not only a monumental achievement for Danielle, but a significant milestone for Winnipeggers, Canadians and young women in general with career aspirations in sports media.”

Doiron is the second RRC alumna to make a foray into a male-dominated field this week. Last Saturday, Business Administration grad Amber Balcaen became the first Canadian woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned stock car race.

(Photo credit: Edward Doiron)

Printed windows: RRC grads’ work featured in urban art installations

August 31, 2016

Isabelle Kilimnik

The eye-catching artwork of two recent Graphic Design grads earned a high-profile reveal last week as part of a new downtown beautification project.

Urban Wallpaper, launched recently by the Downtown Business Improvement Zone (BIZ), aims to transform and enliven vacant windows, storefronts and construction sites using jury-selected designs from local artists.

Jesse Warkentin's window, Urban WallpaperSo far, five downtown locations have been outfitted with urban art, including Donald and Kennedy Street sites featuring works by Isabelle Kilimnik (above) and Jesse Warkentin (work at left), both graduates of RRC’s Advanced Graphic Design program.

Downtown BIZ reps hope the new installations will not only improve the visual landscape downtown, but also combat impressions the district is uninviting or unsafe.

Kilimnik and Warkentin’s work was completed as part of their Visual Exploration class with RRC instructor Ken Stampnick.

Victory lane: Business Administration grad makes NASCAR history

August 29, 2016

Amber-BalcaenA Red River College grad burned rubber and blazed a new trail over the weekend, becoming the first Canadian woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race.

Amber Balcaen (Business Administration, 2013) drove her No. 10 Lee Pulliam Performance car straight into the history books Saturday night, pulling from the pack to capture the checkered flag at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia.

The 24-year-old had previously found success on the local dirt track circuit, becoming the first woman in Manitoba to win a championship and carrying on the family tradition established by her father and grandfather, both accomplished racers in their own right.

Saturday’s win came during the second-last race of Balcaen’s rookie season on U.S. pavement, and bumped her to a third-place seat in the overall point standings. She’s earned top-five rankings in 10 out of 13 races this season, including podium finishes in the Limited Sportsman class of NASCAR’s Whelen All-America Series.

In a 2014 interview for RRC’s Going Places blog, Balcaen said her college experience gives her an edge over some of her racing-world competitors, especially when it comes to marketing herself and securing sponsorships.

“Not only is racing a sport, but it’s almost like a business where you need to be that full package,” she said then. “You need to be able to speak to people, you need to be professional, and then on the driving side of things, you need to be physically fit so you’re a good driver.”

Read more about Balcaen’s road to NASCAR.

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